Understanding another language is hard enough, but students in the Health and Business Topics in Film and Media Creative Inquiry have reached far beyond comprehension of the Spanish language. Led by Dr. Graciela Tissera, associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, this Creative Inquiry team takes foreign, primarily Spanish, films and analyzes their themes, focusing on the way health and business topics are portrayed. Pertinent topics like human sexuality, alternate realities, domestic violence and feminist symbols are just a few of the topics that Tissera and her team research and analyze through the viewing of these films.
“We’re opening up our minds and learning about a world beyond just learning the Spanish language.”
Rebecca McConnell, senior language and international health major reflected, “We’re opening up our minds and learning about a world beyond just learning the Spanish language.” She is a member of the Creative Inquiry team which recently presented at the National Southeast Coastal Conference on Languages and Literatures. The students feel through media and film, they are able to get a peek into lives that are sometimes carried on behind closed doors. What is depicted on-screen offers unique insight into situations and attitudes not readily observable to the public or to researchers in learning what specific cultures value. Students follow an analysis guide while they watch the films, which helps them to identify main themes, impact of time and space, techniques, symbols, etc. This invites the students to think critically about what the directors of the films are highlighting and the interpretations that can be inferred from the production.
Tissera began one Creative Inquiry project with a handful of students in 2007. The original project evolved into four projects and 30 students. Many of the students in the Creative Inquiry are language and international health majors who then go on to pursue medical school after graduation. However, there are students from several disciplines and career trajectories on the teams.
When students are not analyzing and discussing films, they are traveling to various conferences throughout the semester. Several Clemson University undergraduate students have been recognized for their research and many are asked to speak at the conferences. Team members submit proposals to these conferences which permits them to have their work recognized on national and international levels. Offering up a different view of foreign cultures, any student interested in foreign languages or international travel should pursue one of Tissera’s Creative Inquiry projects.
Barbara J. Speziale